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UK National Rail Enquiries - How to Find UK Train Times and Fares

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London bridge underground station
Alan Copson /Photodisc/Getty Images

National Rail Enquiries - One Source of Train Times and Fares for All:

National Rail Enquiries is the UK guide to British train services. When British Rail was broken up into many private companies, in the 1980s, finding train services, schedules, stations, fares and connections, was a nightmare. Before National Rail Enquiries online service, if you needed advance information -- or wanted to know which station to turn up at -- you had to telephone and face long waits on hold or hours of busy signals.

Thank goodness for the Internet.

National Rail Enquiries is now the fast, official, online source for train service information, UK train times, timetables and a great deal more.

How to Use UK National Rail Enquiries to Find Train Schedules and Fares:

The website is a functional looking page. On the top, lefthand side, find the Journey Planner. This is a really useful tool. Simply enter in the "To" and "From" information, the date and times you want to travel, whether you want a Single (one-way) or Return (round-trip) journey and whether you are willing to change trains or want to travel direct (not always possible).

Hit SEARCH and after a few seconds, the screen displays a selection of train service trip options.

What Do I Do Next?:

Pick the trip option closest to when you want to travel and click See All Details. More details about the journey appear, including the names of all the stations.

If you are simply planning a journey, or if you have a BritRail pass and don't need to purchase a ticket, that's it.

If you do want to buy a ticket or make a reservation, click Check Fares. You can refine your search by seeking the cheapest or the fastest ticket. The system will then present you with more choices and explanations of which fares you are eligible for or which apply to the train journey you've chosen.

Is the Information on National Rail Enquiries Reliable?:

Usually. But, if you are traveling on a British Bank Holiday, trains run to a different timetable and it's a good idea to double check at a manned train station, a day or two ahead of your trip. There are usually short queues at the Advance Tickets window.

Generally, the information, including service status and updates, is accurate.

The site also has information about handicapped access at stations, rules on luggage and animals, information for families and all sorts of things you never knew you wanted to know about British rail travel.

Can I Buy a Ticket From The National Rail Enquiries Website?:

No, that is one thing that is still left to the individual train companies.

Once you've picked your journey and checked the fare, choose "Buy a Ticket" and a drop down menu with live links to all the train companies will appear. Make sure you note down the details of your selected journey and fare because, once you click on a train operator's link, it will disappear.

Now here is the good news - any of the train operators can sell you a ticket for any journey, whether they operate that journey or not. So, once you have used the National Rail Enquiries website, all the hard work is done.

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